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House of Commons Hansard #186 of the 41st Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was research.

Topics

Respect for Communities ActGovernment Orders

12:50 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, it is worth noting that the one injection site we have in Canada is located in Vancouver. This site has received universal support in its creation. Different stakeholders were involved. First responders, health care professionals, security and law enforcement officials and community leaders, including federal, provincial and municipal levels of government were all involved. Years after the fact, there has been virtually no criticism. It has been a huge success story, which has demonstrated the system works.

Outside of having a bumper sticker out of the Prime Minister's Office to give an appearance that it is just not true, why has the Prime Minister taken this direction, which clearly seems to be at odds with what has been a huge success story in Vancouver on many different fronts?

Respect for Communities ActGovernment Orders

12:50 p.m.

Conservative

Royal Galipeau Conservative Ottawa—Orléans, ON

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the fact that the hon. member for Winnipeg North approves of the injection site in the lower east side in Vancouver. However, I believe the people of Winnipeg North are going to appreciate, before such a site is established in his electoral district, the extra conditions the minister would have to look at that would protect the communities in his district.

Respect for Communities ActGovernment Orders

12:50 p.m.

Essex Ontario

Conservative

Jeff Watson ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, one of the conditions is the important input from the community itself. Does the member think opposition parties want so-called injection sites, where people are shooting up heroin and other drugs, to be done quietly, or should the community be involved?

Respect for Communities ActGovernment Orders

12:50 p.m.

Conservative

Royal Galipeau Conservative Ottawa—Orléans, ON

Mr. Speaker, I do not know every community across the country. I know the community I represent in the House. I can assure the hon. member that the people of Orléans, Blackburn Hamlet and Carlsbad Springs would want these conditions to be imposed before the Minister of Health approved an injection site in any of those communities.

Respect for Communities ActGovernment Orders

12:50 p.m.

Conservative

Pat Perkins Conservative Whitby—Oshawa, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise to add to the discussion in support of this important bill. My comments today will highlight the work that is already being done in this area throughout our great country.

Under this strategy, our government has spent well over a half a billion dollars on drug prevention, treatment and enforcement. That is an outstanding sum of money and should highlight for members the importance our government places on addressing drug use and addiction in Canada.

The national anti-drug strategy provides a focused approach aimed at reducing the supply of and the demand for illicit drugs. It is addressing prescription drug abuse and the crimes associated with illicit drugs. To accomplish this, the national strategy has implemented three action plans, which are focused on prevention, treatment and enforcement.

Under the treatment action plan, the province of Quebec has received $11.8 million from 2011 to 2014, which has resulted in a number of positive outcomes. These outcomes include the establishment of new partnerships and formal agreements to support integrated rehabilitation services and continuity of post-rehabilitation services by developing agreements between addiction treatment centres and partners, such as hospitals and community organizations, as well as the establishment of a substance abuse and homelessness pilot project to implement concerted interventions by all concerned stakeholders in 12 health and social service regional authorities.

Another investment under the strategy's treatment action plan is the $7.68 million the government has provided to the province of British Columbia from 2009 to 2014. This has had funding for many positive outcomes, including improved medical student education by expanding a student's education in addiction medicine, from two hours a week to two weeks in rotations; the co-creation with aboriginal partners of the content and design of motivational dialogue workshops; and the creation of a community-based integrated health service for people with substance use and mental health concerns.

In addition, funding is also being provided to support priorities under the prevention action plan. For example, Klinic Community Health Centre in Winnipeg is being funded for $223,000, from 2014 to 2016, and is assisting youth 14 to 19 years of age at a higher risk for substance abuse. There are three main components: an illicit and prescription drug use prevention workshop for youth; a training program with an emphasis on drug prevention for peer support volunteers; and training to enhance the ability of Manitoba-based service providers to deliver prevention education to high-needs youth.

Another project supported by the prevention action plan is a project with the University of Victoria's Centre for Addictions Research. This centre will receive funding of $481,000, from 2014 to 2016, to enhance the ability of teachers to deliver effective drug education to our youth. To support professional development, the project will create and use online training modules as well as resources for face-to-face training such as lesson plans, learning activities and existing evidence-based drug prevention resources.

Our government also continues to work hard to prevent drug addiction and improve the accessibility, quality and effectiveness of treatment services for first nations, and Inuit youth and their families. To this end, in 2014 through 2015, $80.9 million is being provided to support a network of 44 treatment centres and community-based drug and alcohol prevention services in first nations and Inuit communities across Canada. Included in this funding are $12.1 million from the national anti-drug strategy to improve the quality, effectiveness and accessibility of addiction services for this population.

Investments have also improved access to community-based, client-centred, multidisciplinary mental wellness teams. These teams provide comprehensive addiction and mental health services to first nations and Inuit communities across Canada. They are owned, defined, and driven by the community and include aboriginal traditional, cultural, and mainstream clinical approaches to mental wellness services that span prevention to aftercare.

Investments made through the national strategy also helped to develop “Honouring our Strengths: A Renewed Framework to Address Substance Use Issues Among First Nation People in Canada”, which has been highly successful in strengthening the system of addiction services for first nationpeople.

The recovery and rehabilitation of people living with addictions is another critical element in addressing substance abuse. The Minister of Health participated in two national recovery round table discussions with physicians and leading addiction recovery specialists to discuss practical solutions to support Canadians in recovery.

People in recovery are dealing with many complex issues related to their addictions. Some of these issues may include untreated mental health problems, family problems, environmental factors, employment challenges, or legal problems related to addiction. This type of dialogue is vital in reducing barriers to accessing treatment so that the people battling addictions, and their families, can get the help they require.

We must not forget about research. The Government of Canada invested over $126 million in addiction research between 2006 and 2014 through the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, or CIHR. It was part of its overall investment, approximately $4.5 million in funding, to support 28 research projects focused specifically on treatment systems for illicit drug use and overall treatment strategies for substance abuse and addiction. Strategy funding also supported the launch of the Canadian Research Initiative in Substance Misuse. This network will address relevant research questions related to substance misuse.

Research and investment in recovery and treatment services will continue to be a priority for the government in its effort to help people and communities in Canada suffering with the issue of drug addiction.

Substance abuse and addiction affect people of every race, age, economic status, and background. Effective treatment and recovery programs need to be multi-faceted to ensure that components such as physical health, culture, family, community, and mental health are all part of an integrated solution. The Government of Canada recognizes the importance of collaboration in this regard and continues to work closely with the provinces, territories, and key stakeholders to help individuals and families living with addictions.

We all have a role to play and contributions to make. Bill C-2, the respect for communities act, would expand on the Supreme Court's decision regarding Insite. It is another tool the federal government would use to better protect and maintain the health and safety of Canadians. The government's commitment to the protection and safety of Canadians is also reflected in its significant investment in prevention and treatment funding.

The proposed legislation acknowledges that street drugs have serious health effects and that organized crime profits from the use of illegal substances. It is only common sense that activities with illegal drugs would be permitted only once rigorous criteria had been addressed by an applicant seeking to open a supervised consumption site.

I urge all members to vote in favour of Bill C-2. Our communities depend on our support.

Respect for Communities ActGovernment Orders

1 p.m.

NDP

Jamie Nicholls NDP Vaudreuil—Soulanges, QC

Mr. Speaker, I want to share a story with members from the end of last year. In 2014, a Canadian Press story mentioned that six individuals in the Durham region died from suspected overdoses. There was probably bad heroin on the streets.

In light of that story, would it not be better for the government to accelerate safe injection sites so that the people could be at a site where they could be monitored, rather than letting them shoot up in their living rooms or backyards and having them pass away tragically without any supervision or being known? Would the member not agree that maybe we should be facilitating the process to open these sites so that these victims of drugs do not have to pass away in loneliness anymore?

Respect for Communities ActGovernment Orders

1 p.m.

Conservative

Pat Perkins Conservative Whitby—Oshawa, ON

Mr. Speaker, that is an interesting question, but I do not believe that an injection site is going to prevent people from, as the member put it, shooting up in their living rooms. He is asking us to take six drug deaths and create an injection site for people so that they do not have to shoot up in their living rooms. That does not reconcile with me.

The fact of the matter is that communities need to be part of the decision. This is the issue, not whether they shoot up in their living rooms or shoot up anywhere. It is about communities having the right to say where they would have them, where they would not have them, and whether they would approve of an application to put one in perhaps next door. We need to have community input. Communities need to be respected.

As a former mayor of a community, if people decided they were going to put in an injection site without contacting our community and allowing us to hear from the people who live and work in our community and letting them decide, I think there would be an absolutely huge backlash from every community in the country. It is intolerable.

Respect for Communities ActGovernment Orders

1:05 p.m.

Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo B.C.

Conservative

Cathy McLeod ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health and for Western Economic Diversification

Mr. Speaker, when the opposition members ask questions or make their remarks, they frequently say that we are not taking an evidence-based approach. They talk about Conservatives being hard-hearted and not caring. Quite frankly, I find that very insulting. This legislation specifically talks about the need for scientific evidence.

Everyone in the House has family, friends, or colleagues who have suffered the terrible ravages of addictions. I do not know that there is anyone who is not impacted.

What I particularly like in this piece of legislation is the linking of some intervention with the site, intervention in terms of rehabilitation or opportunities to help people break the path of addiction. Could the member talk about not only that but about some of the concepts the opposition members are putting out that are simply not true?

Respect for Communities ActGovernment Orders

1:05 p.m.

Conservative

Pat Perkins Conservative Whitby—Oshawa, ON

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate those comments and certainly the question. It is very difficult to move in a positive direction when people are looking to do nothing but find negatives. This is about engaging our communities. It is about respecting our communities and allowing people to have a say. I do not think we should heavy-handedly allow these sites to be implemented in places where they just would not be welcome.

It is only respectful for us to go to our communities and get input to make sure that medical officers of health, provincial governments, municipal governments, and all of the people who have a stake in this have an opportunity to say what they agree with and what they do not.

Respect for Communities ActGovernment Orders

1:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

The hon. member for Alfred-Pellan has six minutes on debate.

Respect for Communities ActGovernment Orders

1:05 p.m.

NDP

Rosane Doré Lefebvre NDP Alfred-Pellan, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House today to speak once again about Bill C-2 on supervised injection sites.

I wanted to mention that because we have been talking a lot about health in the context of this bill. The Minister of Health appeared before the committee. However, oddly enough, this bill was referred to the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security because that is what the Conservatives wanted.

Even though this bill has to do with health, I sincerely believe that the Conservatives wanted to politicize the issue by demanding that it be sent to that committee. Everyone here knows that, and nobody is falling for it. However, that did give me the opportunity to hear from excellent witnesses who came to talk about this bill in committee. We had some very enlightening conversations about the issue.

With respect to the debate on Bill C-2, nobody here is a fool, and Canadians are not fools either. My Conservative colleagues have a lot to say about the problem of addiction and drugs, and they think that supervised injection sites make it easier for people to get drugs on our streets. They have created a climate of fear around supervised injection sites. What is even sadder is that the Conservatives are also using this issue to raise funds for their election campaign. That is truly deplorable.

Respect for Communities ActGovernment Orders

1:05 p.m.

An hon. member

It is inappropriate.

Respect for Communities ActGovernment Orders

1:05 p.m.

NDP

Rosane Doré Lefebvre NDP Alfred-Pellan, QC

I think it is inappropriate to use something as serious as the addiction problems of the less fortunate in our society and make money from it. I hope that Canadians will realize that the Conservatives are not acting in good faith. I will try to use what little time I have to elaborate.

To use the issue surrounding supervised injection sites in order to raise money, the Conservatives came up with the slogan “keep drugs away from our children”. That is nothing new for the Conservatives. We saw that recently with Bill C-53, Life Means Life, introduced by the government. A few hours after announcing this very important justice bill, they launched a fundraising campaign for the upcoming election. Frankly, their way of using very sensitive issues to try to make money on the backs of poor people is deplorable. No one is fooled: we know that the Conservatives are using Bill C-2 to try to score political points.

I listened to a number of speeches from both sides of the House, and I paid particular attention to the speeches by the government members. They keep saying that this bill addresses the problem of drugs in our streets. Is obstructing groups like InSite in Vancouver East really the best way to eradicate addiction problems? Of course not. This makes no sense.

If the government really wants to address problems related to addictions and mental health, as well as access to drugs and other illicit substances in our communities, there are much simpler ways of doing that. For example, it could invest in our police forces across the country.

I am thinking of what happened in Montreal, for example. The Conservatives allocated $400 million to special projects across the country. I do not remember the exact amounts and I am not going to get into that, but several million dollars were granted to Quebec. The province decided to create the Eclipse squad to deal with the problem of street gangs and, by extension, addiction and access to drugs in its communities. The Eclipse squad worked miracles for five years. Unfortunately, the Conservatives decided not to renew the funding. If they really wanted to address the problem of access to illicit substances in our communities, restoring funding for projects like the Eclipse squad would have been a much better way of doing that than standing in the way of groups like InSite, which is only trying to address certain health issues and help people overcome their addictions.

Other than parliamentary procedures, which I do not want to get into, I would also like to mention something that was talked about in the last speech, and that is the need to respect our communities. That is what we must do. In Montreal there was a project that the mayor, elected officials from all levels of government, the police, community leaders and health leaders were participating in. They were in the process of setting up a project like InSite, in the typical Montreal way of doing things. Unfortunately, if Bill C-2 is passed, it will create obstacles for our communities.

I would like to ask the Conservative government to reverse its decision, rethink its strategy for dealing with addictions and access to illicit substances, and completely dismiss the idea of moving forward with Bill C-2.

Respect for Communities ActGovernment Orders

March 13th, 2015 / 1:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

It being 1:15 p.m., pursuant to an order made on Thursday, February 26, 2015, it is my duty to interrupt the proceedings and put forthwith every question necessary to dispose of the third reading stage of the bill now before the House.

Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Respect for Communities ActGovernment Orders

1:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

No.

Respect for Communities ActGovernment Orders

1:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.

Respect for Communities ActGovernment Orders

1:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

Respect for Communities ActGovernment Orders

1:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

All those opposed will please say nay.

Respect for Communities ActGovernment Orders

1:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

Respect for Communities ActGovernment Orders

1:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

In my opinion the yeas have it.

And five or more members having risen:

Pursuant to Standing Order 45, the recorded division stands deferred until Monday, March 23, 2015, at the ordinary hour of daily adjournment.

The hon. member for Newmarket—Aurora is rising.

Respect for Communities ActGovernment Orders

1:15 p.m.

Conservative

Lois Brown Conservative Newmarket—Aurora, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would ask that you see the clock at 1:30.

Respect for Communities ActGovernment Orders

1:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

Is there unanimous consent?

Respect for Communities ActGovernment Orders

1:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Respect for Communities ActGovernment Orders

1:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

It being 1:30 p.m., the House will now proceed to the consideration of private members' business as listed on today's order paper.

National Strategy for Dementia ActPrivate Members' Business

1:15 p.m.

NDP

Claude Gravelle NDP Nickel Belt, ON

moved that Bill C-356, An Act respecting a National Strategy for Dementia, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Mr. Speaker, I have been waiting a long time for this. I count it a privilege to stand in the House today to speak on my bill, an act respecting a national strategy for dementia.

I am aware of the millions of Canadians who are directly caught up in the web of Alzheimer's or dementia. I have also become aware of many Canadians and groups who, like me, want a national dementia plan.

It was over three years ago that I stood to introduce this legislation. I shared how this bill came to be by telling the story of my mother's seven-year battle with Alzheimer's, from 1997 until her death in 2003.

The Sudbury Star had profiled my family's experience and had in the headline the following comment: “I didn't know enough”. Truer words have never been spoken. Many others who have caregiving responsibilities thrust on them tell me that those words ring true.

In the past three years, I have learned plenty. First was the staggering statistic on how many people are affected, which is reflected in the “Rising Tide” report by the Alzheimer Society of Canada. There are 740,000 people with the disease. This number will double in a generation. The health care cost of $33 billion will soar to $293 billion in 2040.

Providing millions of hours of unpaid caregiving has forced people to cut back or leave work altogether, which harms them and our economy. I want to talk about that this afternoon.

I learned from the Canadian Medical Association that 15% of scarce acute care beds are occupied by people who could be placed elsewhere, and half of those are dementia patients. Beyond those important statistics, I have learned the real face of the problem.

Fran Linton, in British Columbia, wrote to tell me about her experience and that of her husband in dealing with Lewy body dementia. She wrote:

I am writing in the hope that what I present to you will enable people to see the person with dementia and their family as real people and not just statistics and numbers. We hear the staggering statistics of how many people in Canada have dementia and we hear that dollars are being invested in research. What needs to be heard is the daily impact of being a person living with dementia and those supporting the person with dementia. Our Canadian government needs to hear the reality of their world.

I have met these real people from coast to coast to coast in our communities. They are struggling with this enormous challenge.

I have learned that the real face of dementia is not just older people. Matt Dineen is one of the biggest champions for this bill and an actual plan. He could not be here today, but he is listening in. He is a 44-year-old high school teacher here in Ottawa. He and his relatives are now forced to raise three young children as his wife and their mom, Lisa, at 45 years old, is already in secure long-term care with frontotemporal dementia. Matt has met the Minister of Health.

I learned that 15% of dementia patients are under 60 years old. I have learned that we have a health care crisis and a social and economic crisis that we must address.

My legislation calls for leadership from Ottawa, working with the provinces and territories, which, of course, have primary jurisdiction duties for health care delivery.

I want this leadership from Ottawa to tackle five main elements: early diagnosis and prevention; research; a continuum of care for people and families in the home, the community, and institutions; real help for caregivers; and training for the dementia workforce.

On that last point, help for the dementia workforce, Michael Alexander shared with me the horrific story of his father's death in a nursing home at the hands of another Alzheimer patient. CTV, in a special report, said that there have been 60 such deaths in 12 years, a figure that is growing. Michael Alexander and his family want a real and national dementia plan.

I said I wanted to speak about the challenges caregivers face. Tanya Levesque is a woman in Ottawa looking after her mom. Here are some of the life and financial issues she has met with as a caregiver.

To take care of her mom, Ms. Levesque first had to take leave without pay so she could care for her at home. She will only have the option of leave without pay for five years. Money gets tighter and tighter as they try to keep her in her home and care for her. They draw on savings that were meant for later years.

She writes the following:

Following is a list of financial barriers I have experienced during my journey as my mother's caregiver: Unable to access my El benefits; I've been unable to qualify for social assistance; unable to claim the caregiver amount on my income tax, since my mother's net income is a few thousand more than what is listed; lack of subsidies for expenses which keep increasing (i.e. property tax, parking fees at hospitals for appointments, gas for travelling to appointments, hydro, water and sewage fees and more); I've changed my eating habits to save money, due to the increased cost of food, so my mother can eat well; and because of a lack of future job security, my retirement security is in question — I can't save, because I've chosen to care for my mother, who took care of me

Ms. Levesque, her mom, and others are watching today. Let us pass a real dementia plan as law to help those overwhelmed caregivers.

As I said, I introduced this bill over three years ago. I want to recognize the progress made by Canada since then, through the government working with a G8 initiative and also with our provinces and territories. Many would like that progress to be quicker, but it does deserve recognition.

Canada had come to the G8 summit called for by the U.K. prime minister without a national dementia plan. Several allies from leading economic nations had national plans. Canada has made several significant announcements on research that we support. Research will be the key part of any plan or response to this health care crisis.

Even though research can have an impact on other parts of the dementia challenge, research alone cannot help those with the disease, their caregivers, or the workforce. That is why our party has been insistent on a full, comprehensive strategy.

Canada needs a national strategy for dementia that comes from Ottawa, but one that respects provincial and territorial jurisdiction over health. One strategy tailored to the needs of each province or territory will be far better than 13 separate strategies implemented in isolation of one another. We want a national strategy that goes beyond research, to also help those now living with the disease, their caregivers, and the dementia workforce.

The Canadian Medical Association estimates that patients who should be elsewhere occupy about 15% of the acute care hospital beds across Canada, and one third of them are suffering from dementia. Lost in those numbers perhaps is the real human face of the disease—the moms, dads, brothers, sisters, friends, neighbours and work colleagues.

While an elderly face typifies most people dealing with dementia, 15% of those living with Alzheimer's or related dementia diseases are under 60. At every meeting we had on this bill, we found people who know someone directly affected as a patient or caregiver. It is a health challenge. It is a health care challenge. Given the current lack of money and resources for health care, it is a big problem for us to solve.

I have noted the work that the government is doing with the provinces and territories through the Council of the Federation.

In the past year, I have enjoyed several conversations with the current Minister of Health. I have respected her work on this file. I have been communicating with the minister and her department over the past month and have discussed possible amendments to the bill in committee to work collaboratively on changes that all parties could support. We have identified a way to have this legislation passed.

I look forward to hearing the government's position regarding possible support for a national dementia plan. I know she and all MPs have been hearing loud and clear from so many Canadians who want this to happen. We now have over 300 municipalities passing resolutions in favour of the bill. We have over 90 petitions tabled in the House of Commons in support of it.

There are so many people who say it makes sense. There is support from seniors, health care professionals, labour, and faith communities. Yes, the faith communities are very responsive to the bill, and they are very interested in seeing it pass.

In talks across the country, I have often talked about the non-partisan nature of this disease, how it strikes our loved ones, our mums, dads, siblings, grandparents, friends, neighbours, and work colleagues. Everyone, on all sides of the House, knows the story. I am astonished that wherever I go, everyone knows someone with Alzheimer's or dementia-related disease, or someone caring for them.

Let us do this for them. Let us do this for our country. Let us make history.